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Friday, March 21, 2008

PA chooses open source

"We were being asked to do things that we just couldn't bend the system any further to do."

Sound familiar?

That's PA's IT development manager Paul Berman talking to about the company's decision to use an open source platform, Nuxeo, to build a better content management system.

Like everyone else on the planet PA is handling an increasing volume of video, audio and slide shows as well as text and they need a system that can manage that simply and efficiently.

Anyone who works in a newsroom will know that the legacy systems we have simply aren't up to the job. Older web CMSs weren't built for multimedia in any volume and no matter how many scripts the good people in IT write to make the ageing print CMS talk nicely to the ageing web CMS, it's not a smooth process. In most newsrooms reporters still write into the print CMS.

Invariably getting something online involves multiple steps, things to remember, repetition and miles of mouse clicks and keystrokes.

That makes it difficult to distribute the burden of marking up and loading web copy among authors and editors, who are the natural candidates for the role in a web-first operation.

If it's a really complicated process, they're not going to want to do it, might not understand it well and cut corners, and will be distracted from the business at hand of researching and producing good stories.

"We have some really very specific requirements for our editorial applications in which we want to deliver a very effective tool for our journalists to do things with as few keystrokes as possible, efficiently and quickly," Paul Berman told

On the reason for choosing open source, he said: "It's a mixture of the flexibility, the cost and the potential to scale it and make it really adaptable for our environment."

Interesting to see a major news group choose open source given the customary preference in such organisations for proprietary 'best of breed' systems.